Dynamic Quietism and the Consolidation of the ḥawza ʿilmīyya of Qum during the Pahlavi Era

Mohammad Mesbahi

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Reza Shah’s attempt in the latter part of his autocracy (1935–1941) to implement formal education for the clergy continues to be one of the most understudied periods of Iran’s modern history. The primary aim of this paper is to investigate the ḥawza’s strategic response to Reza Shah’s envisaged secularism and to assess the contribution made by Ayatollah Muhammad Hojjat Kuh Kamari (1892–1952), the religious authority leading the ḥawza ʿilmīyya of Qum during this crucial phase. At a time, when the political establishment actively attempted to change the cultural identity of Iran through its promotion of modernization with Western connotations, he viewed this as a new challenge that endangered the Islamic fabric of Iranian society and placed an emphasis on a socio-cultural response by Shia clerics. By drawing on a range of primary sources not consulted before, this study aims at understanding how the institutional and intellectual development of this critical transition period led to the breathing period for ḥawza ʿilmīyya of Qum and the quasi-democratic phase of Iran (1941–1953). Additionally, this paper will analyse the approach of dynamic quietism that prioritized the engagement of the ‘ulamāʾ with education and society as the crucial factor in ensuring their socio-cultural influence in Iran.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Early online date20 Oct 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Oct 2021


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